The Angel Maker begins when Victor Hoppe arrives back in Wolfheim unexpectedly and moves in to his father’s old surgery. What he brings with him changes the lives of the residents of the village. This secret arrival starts rumours and intrigue that only gets fuelled by his reclusive behaviour. The story then moves from past to present towards a logical and disturbing conclusion.
Brijs explores how a mix of Science and Religion move through Victor Hoppe’s life. Victor doesn’t have the best of starts as he’s thought of as being simple but a bit of attention brings him out of himself. It also shapes his life and career as well as his view of Religion, well more accurately his thoughts on God.
The Angel Maker is set in the same era as emergence of cloning and fertility treatments, an area which Dr Hoppe specialised in. His experiments have a direct link to the influence of his early life, which is revealed slowly as the chapters move through different episodes in the past and present.
To humanise this experience we see a lot of his housekeeper Charlotte Maenhout in the beginning. This softens the often-unemotional Victor but after her absence he has nothing left to really restrain his monstrous behaviour.
This novel wasn’t what I expected. The Angel Maker makes it sounds hopeful and positive. It isn’t. The exploration of what happens when Faith and Religion mix with a man who’s more logical than emotional is a disturbing read.
There is a strange inevitability throughout, though I’d hope that if Rex Cremer had interfered more it could have ended differently.
I’ll admit that at the end I didn’t like Victor Hoppe but I was compelled to find out what he’s doing and why. There is a need here to finish the exploration that I’d say is down to how Brijs expertly draws the reader in. I’m looking forward to seeing what he has translated next.
Finally I’d say there is also the connection with another Dr Victor and there are more than a few connections, I’d guess*, if you were to compare.
*though I’ve never read the book in question.
Published: 10 July 2008